Digital Nomad Packout for Hackers
I LOVE to travel. In 2020, I made the decision that I wanted to travel more, a lot more. I wanted to start remote work and living the digital nomad life exploring the world around me. My time and experience in the US Navy had taught me a lot about traveling the world, and living the life of someone who is always moving but I packed considerably heavy. Living the digital nomad lifestyle means packing light, living like a minimalist.
I would like to say first off that I am not sponsored in any way by the brands mentioned in this article nor are any of the links affiliated.
Probably one of the most important things on this list is the backpack. It needs to be large enough to carry all of my possessions, small enough to carry on a plane, waterproof, durable, function like a suitcase and a backpack. I own a lot of backpacks (mostly from my military service) but none of them were well suited for the journeys ahead. I needed something designed more specifically for long term travel. I had a few options to look at. The Osprey Farpoint was the first recommendation I was given but after many review about the terrible laptop placement (outside compartment which is curved), I passed. The Tortuga Outbreaker was another option I was eyeballing but I heard too many complaints about the weight of the back and how uncomfortable it could be carrying for long periods of time. The GoRuck GR3 was another one I was looking at but their manufacturing and production required I preorder the backpack I wanted on their next back, which meant waiting. With my trip coming up soon I didn’t have this luxury.
I eventually found out about Aer and their Travel Pack 2 series backpacks. I was even more impressed when I found out about their X-Pac material that they use. It is waterproof, and very durable. I ordered the Aer Travel Pack 2 X-Pac, as well as the Aer Day Sling 2 X-Pac, packing cubes (1 small, 2 medium, and 1 large) and the X-Pac Hip Belt for the Travel Pack 2. Unlike most backpacks, the waist trap needs to be purchased separately however I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have this especially when carrying heavier loads since it evenly disperses this weight across your shoulders, back and waist.
The Aer Travel Pack 2 comes with a compartment that open up completely vertically (like a suitcase). This is important for having easy access to all of your clothes instead of having to shuffle things around. The orange interior makes it VERY easy to identify things inside of the backpack due to the contrast in color compared to just a black interior. Packing cubes are also another must for organizing clothes
Traveling out of a 33L backpack means packing light, like VERY light. I needed to pack clothes that are multipurpose and can be worn for days a a time without being washed. For this, we look to merino wool. Most of my clothes (the important ones anyways) consist of some blend of merino wool. Merino wool is a type of wool that is grown on merino sheep. Merino wool is NOT the same as what you might think of with traditional wool. While it insulates well like regular wool (keeping you arm in the cold) it is also moisture wicking, quick drying, odor repealing, and VERY soft. These shirts can be worn for days, weeks and if need be, months without being washed thoroughly. Merino wool has a good warmth to weight ratio meaning you stay warm while also packing lights. The material is very breathable thus keeping you cool on a warm day as well.
For shirts, I turn to Unbound Merino. I have a few of their shirts. I pack 4 crew cut shirts (2 black, 1 blue and 1 tan) as well as 1 long sleeve shirt (black) for colder climates. Wearing darker colors not only hides moisture (like sweat) but it also looks slimmer and you can use this shirt in a professional setting. Having multipurpose clothing is IMPORTANT when you only have limited space
For underwear, I pack 4 Smartwool boxer brief. These use a blend of merino wool with other materials like spandex. They are light, breathable and most importantly moisture wicking. They repel scent and prevent bacteria from growing. The reason most cotton clothes retain water and thus promote the growth of bacteria, which produce that smell.
For socks I carry 2 long merino wool blended socks and 2 pairs of ankle merino wool blended socks.
Unbound Merino – Merino Wool Crew Neck T-Shirt (x2 black, x1 charcoal, x1 navy blue)
Unbound Merino – Long Sleeve Merino Crew (x1 black)
Smartwool – Men’s Merino Sport 150 Boxer Brief
Smartwool – Men’s Merino 250 Base Layer Bottom
Alvada 80% Merino Wool Hiking Socks
FUN TOES Men’s Merino Wool Low Cut Socks
Winter Knitted Convertible Fingerless Gloves
Rab – Microlight Alpine Down Jacket
Colombia – Men’s Watertight II Rain Jacket
Goodthreads – Men’s Lightweight Merino Wool/Acrylic Fullzip Hoodie Sweater
Levis – 502 Taper Fit Levi’s Flex Men’s Jeans
H&M – Skinny Fit Cargo Joggers
H&M – Dropped-gusset Sweatshorts
BUFF – Adult Lightweight Merino Wool Multifunctional Headwear and Face Mask
L.L.Bean – Anti-Microbial Neck Gaiter
Being a hacker by trade and living the digital nomad lifestyle, my technology loadout is very important. I had to carefully select and choose the things I was going to bring with me thus what I have will probably not fit your needs the same as they fit mine.
My laptop was issued to me from my job. It is a Microsoft Surface Book 3. It is a product that is built by Microsoft and runs Windows 10 (thankfully not 11). There isn’t much to say here. The batter life is amazing. It has a touch screen and can be used as standalone tablet. Its slim, minimal and lightweight. There are better options on the market but this is what I use. Along with my laptop, I carry a Logitech G915 TLK Mechanical Keyboard as well as a Logitech MX Master 3 Wireless Mouse. It might seem a little too much to have an external keyboard and mouse for someone trying to travel light but let me tell you, working on the computer as much as I do, it is just as essential to be comfortable working as it is traveling.
I recently bought a Google Pixel 6 and I have to say as a new flagship phone on the market I am loving it. The photos it takes are amazing although I wish that the automatic color correction wasn’t so….aggressive (since I like doing post editing myself). I also carry a GoPro Hero 7 with extra batteries and a charger. While I debated strongly on the new Hero 10 (and I mean I almost bought it), I figured that I could save the money and just used the Hero 7 which honestly works just fine. I might buy the Hero 10 later though. I carry my Kindle Paperwhite with me everywhere whenever I want to read and take a break from my laptop or phone.
Charging all of these devices is important and carrying the minimal amount of chargers is essential when packing light. I ditch the chargers that came stock with each device and opt for a single solution. For wall charging I use the Anker PowerPort Atom III. This charger gives me 65W of charging power over 3 USB-A ports and 1 USB 45W USB-C port. When I say this thing is slim, I mean its SLIM. I use this to charge everything (phone, laptop, GoPro, headphones, etc). Sometimes I need to charge devices and there isn’t a wall outlet available. For this I carry the Anker PowerCore III Elite 25600. This portable charger provides 87W of power through 2 USB-A ports and 65Wof charging power through 2 USB-C ports.